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Robbery and Theft: Consequences & Defenses

September 23rd, 2005

By: Tony Partipilo, Attorney at Law and Natalie Banach

Robbery Overview

Robbery is the act of depriving someone of their personal property while in their presence through the use of force or fear. The property can either be taken from the person or from their immediate surroundings. If a deadly weapon such as a gun is used or the victim suffers physical harm, the act can be classified as “armed” or “aggravated” and the severity of the punishment can be increased. The actual elements of theft include trespassing, taking, carrying away, the fact that it is someone else’s property, the intent to steal, the presence of the person who owns the property, and intimidation. Unless all seven of these elements are present, theft as defined by the law, does not occur.

Consequences Of Robbery

The various punishments ascribed to theft can depend on the type and the value of the stolen property, but can include:

  • imprisonment
  • probation
  • restitution (a penalty imposed which restores the worth of the property to the owner)
  • fines
  • court approved counseling
  • other

Chances That Any Of The Above Consequences Will Occur

The likelihood that any of these consequences will be applied and the degree to which they are proscribed generally depends on what was stolen and its market value. Known either as petty theft or grand theft, the difference can mean a greater or lesser punishment. Examples of grand theft include, but are not limited to, stolen property that exceeds $400 in value or whenever a firearm is taken. The theft of items which have less monetary value, usually under $400, can be classified as petty theft. Grand theft is generally punishable by imprisonment in state prison. Petty theft is generally punishable by imprisonment in county jail.

Such punishments are the general rule and can increase or decrease based on additional factors. For example, a person’s past criminal record can increase the likelihood that a more severe punishment will be proscribed. Additional factors can include, but are not limited to, the attitude of the community and the court toward the type of crime, the degree of media attention to the case, and other mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

Possible Defenses For Robbery or Theft Charges

There are various defenses that can potentially be used in cases of theft and they include factual innocence, a lack of evidence linking the accused to the crime, or the issue of true owner, in which the accused argues he is the lawful owner of the property. The issue of true owner largely relies on whether the alleged theft occurred under felonious circumstances. That is, if the defendant was under the good faith belief that he was the actual owner of the property, then it is possible for him to be not guilty of robbery. In addition, there are many other defenses that can be used in particularly unique cases.

Helping Your Theft Case

There are a number of steps a person can take as soon as they are charged with a crime of theft or robbery. The first is to stringently exercise the right to remain silent. Keeping silent enables the accused to learn exactly what is going on, calmly analyze the facts and make sure they do not weaken their case in any way. In all criminal cases, retaining qualified counsel as soon as possible should be a priority. No matter how minor the charge, any person charged with a criminal offense can benefit from a competent criminal defense attorney. Even if the lawyer consulted does not ultimately argue the case on that person’s behalf, a consultation can help the accused figure out the nature of the charges filed, what options they have and what could happen in the event of a conviction. Additional steps to help your case include gathering documents which point to your good character and keeping a list of significant events and potential witnesses. It is also important to note that under no circumstances should a person investigate their own case.

What We Can Do To Defend Your Rights Against Theft and Robbery Charges

The criminal defense attorneys at Imhoff & Associates, P.C. Criminal Defense Attorneys are well versed in the laws regarding robbery and theft and also have first-hand experience advocating such cases. Because of their experience, Imhoff & Associates, P.C. Criminal Defense Attorneys recognizes the importance of communicating with any client and making sure they understand what is happening at every stage of the case. As an attorney working on behalf of a client who has been charged with theft, we can help by immediately beginning to prepare the case. This early preparation stage involves gathering all the helpful facts to the case, legal research and identifying what defense will be used. Attorneys at Imhoff & Associates, P.C. Criminal Defense Attorneys also commence interviews with the police and the prosecutor in order to minimize or eliminate your case when possible. In addition, the attorneys are familiar with motions seeking to reduce or eliminate any bail that might be set.

At all stages of the case, attorneys from Imhoff & Associates, P.C. Criminal Defense Attorneys will be diligent and provide a vigorous defense in order to ensure that all facets of the case are being looked at and that a client is not being deprived of any of their legal rights.

In the event that a case goes to court, attorneys at Imhoff & Associates, P.C. Criminal Defense Attorneys have experience developing appropriate motions that may dismiss the case, or that may suppress evidence. Other helpful evidence which attorneys can bring to the courts attention include coordinating a private lie detector test for the client or obtaining an evaluation from a court approved psychologist pointing to counseling as an alternative to jail time. In appropriate cases, attorneys may negotiate the terms of a jail sentence. Nevertheless, in all cases, Imhoff & Associates, P.C. Criminal Defense Attorneys will ensure that a client is looked after at every stage of the case and that their rights are always protected.


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